At Greenwich Early Years Music, children explore the fundamental elements of music - such as pulse, opposites, listening, control of instruments and voices.
Here are just some of the ways we explore music together:
Children love to move to music! Movement and action songs are a fantastic way to develop skills in rhythm and pulse, and to help children develop the motor skills and body awareness they’ll use when they pick up an instrument for the first time!
When we’re having fun finding our ears and our toes for a song, tapping our knees, bouncing up and down, or marching to music, the children are hard at work developing these important musical skills.
Pulse (or the beat), is a vital part of all music, and feeling the pulse is an essential skill for all musicians. Children love to feel it – you can see this when they bounce up and down to music very early on! To help our littlest children join in and develop their sense of pulse you can tap them gently on their arms or legs, rock them to the beat, or tap gently on the soles of their feet in response to the music. Later on they’ll be clapping their hands and marching in time and playing the beat on percussion themselves!
The singing voice is the everyone’s natural instrument, and children love to sing! Children start to really explore their singing voice at around two years of age, but they are picking up and learning songs long before this. Making animal sounds, whoops, and silly voices are all part of this, as children learn to use their voices to express themselves and make music.
We sing lots of songs, from traditional nursery rhymes, to new songs you might not have heard before, and songs we make up ourselves! Some of the songs we use are drawn from the Kodaly method of teaching music. These are very easy to sing, and use a small range of notes that are best-suited to small children’s developing voices. They are also easily adapted, with new words or actions, so we can see the children express themselves through their own improvised songs!
Sometimes songs are accompanied by live instruments played by the tutor, by simple accompaniments everyone plays together percussion, or simply by actions, clapping or tapping our knees. We keep accompaniment simple though, and tend to avoid backing tracks, so children primarily hear music sung and played by real people, giving them the confidence to join in with their own voices as soon as they can!
Music is full of opposites, loud/soft, high/low, fast/slow. We’ll be exploring these in every session, repeating and varying songs to explore different speeds, volumes and pitch. Every song will be exploring some aspect of music – a mouse climbing up a clock to explore pitch, a tortoise and a hare racing to explore speed, and much more – and we also explore these opposites through different voice sounds, movement and dancing!
Music is so expressive and can create many different moods. As well as singing songs about all sorts of characters and stories, we’ll listen to a wide range of music from classical to folk to modern! Moving slowly or rocking quietly to gentle music, and dancing energetically to fast music are great outlets for expression, and help children to learn about how music can tell stories and affect how we feel.
Children love to repeat things! It’s how they learn new skills and understand the world around them. We keep some songs in each session for weeks on end as the repetition is helpful for children to settle in and feel at home – these songs often become firm favourites too! We’ll also repeat songs many times within each session. This gives the children time to absorb and learn new songs, and then to enjoy taking part once they know them. We also take the chance to develop our music skills with each repetition, by repeating songs in different ways, at a new speed or volume, with different voices, new actions, or a new instrumental accompaniment.
We use age-appropriate instruments that the children can control successfully to add to their music-making. We also include free time in each session for the children to explore the instruments freely and enjoy making sounds. Using these, they’ll be developing the motor skills and coordination to make music with traditional instruments when they are a little older.
Our classes for four-year-olds build on everything learned so far but with increasing focus on independent learning. We’ll be teaching the beginnings of music notation, refining skills in pulse, rhythm and pitch, developing both solo and group singing, and creating short musical compositions together. The children will be gaining complex skills as they explore, understand, memorise and internalise musical patterns and concepts. We’ll also be developing increasingly refined motor skills, so they can put all these skills into practice when they first pick up an instrument – be that violin, flute, piano or trumpet!